February 2, 2016

PADI Deep and Wreck Diving Specialties at Stoney Cove

In October 2014 I passed my PADI Deep and Wreck Diving Specialties having completed the required dives at Stoney Cove near Leicester. I had previously attained my PADI Advanced Scuba Diver Certification which qualifies you to Dive to 30m but I was quite keen to have the possibility of diving deeper as the Deep certification allows you to Dive to 40m. Furthermore, I’ve always wanted to have the opportunity to Dive wrecks in various locations around the world.

What you learn in the Deep Speciality Course

Your training starts by reviewing reasons for deep diving and how important it is to know your personal limits. During four deep dives with your instructor, you’ll go over:

  • Specialized deep diving equipment.
  • Deep dive planning, buddy contact procedures and buoyancy control.
  • Managing your gas supply, dealing with gas narcosis and safety considerations.

What you learn in the Wreck Specialty Course

There are many different types of wrecks, some of which are protected by laws that guard their historical and cultural significance. Your training starts by reviewing guidelines for researching and respecting wrecks. During four dives you’ll learn:

  • Safety considerations for navigating and exploring wrecks.
  • Surveying and mapping a wreck.
  • Using penetration lines and reels to guide exploration.
  • Techniques to avoid kicking up silt or disturbing the wreck and its inhabitants.

I really enjoyed doing these two specialties and I also got to do my dives on Nitrox having passed that specialty two weeks earlier. The Stoney Cove Dive Site has plenty of features and wrecks to explore as shown in the map below

Stoney Cove Dive Site Map

Source: www.stoneycove.com

1 Viscount Aircraft Cockpit
2 Nautilus
3 Archways Beneath the Pub
4 The Wessex
5 The Bus
6 The Monster
7 The Galleon

8 Aircraft Wreck
9 Deep Hydrobox
10 Submerged Trees
11 Tower (pole)
12 Blow-Off Preventer (BOP)
13 4-metre Block House
14 Wooden Boat

15 Stanegarth
16 FV 432 APC
17 Landrover
18 Block House
19 The Winch
20 Work Frame
21 Small Hydrobox

22 MG Cars
23 Anchor and chain from Stanegarth
24 Tug Boat Defiant
25 Trawler MV Belinda
26 Gresham Ship c1570

For my wreck certification I explored an old Tug Boat called the Stanegarth.

Richard Byrom undertaking his PADI Wreck Dive Specialty Stanegarth at Stoney Cove

As part of my Deep Certification I got to dive down to the deepest spot at this particular dive site and managed to get down to 35m. Here’s the dive profile provided by my Suunto D4i Dive Computer

Richard Byrom's Dive profile from the Suunto D4i at Stoney Cove

Once you pass the PADI course you’ll obtain a card in the post which looks like this. Of course you can always have an electronic copy via the PADI App. I certainly recommend these two certifications if you want to take your diving to the next level.

Richard Byrom's PADI Wreck Dive Specialty CardRichard Byrom's PADI Deep Diver Specialty Card

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February 1, 2016

Glenmore Lodge - Introduction to Winter Climbing

This weekend I fly up to Inverness to undertake an Introductory Course in Winter Skills with Glenmore Lodge. This trip ticks the boxes for me in many ways: -

  1. I’ve always wanted to visit Inverness
  2. I’ve always wanted to climb in the Cairngorms
  3. I’m keen to broaden my climbing skills

Winter Climbing at Glenmore Lodge

Source: Glenmore Lodge

The main topics covered in the course will be: -

  • Recap of core winter skills, such as using ice axe and crampons, for approaching climbs
  • Basic rope work (tying into multi point anchors) and belaying both leader and second
  • Use of technical ice tools and crampons on a variety of mediums (rock, ice, snow, turf)
  • Escaping from winter multi pitch climbs (including abseiling from a variety of anchors).
  • Avalanche awareness and its implications for safe route choice.
  • Evening sessions may include an avalanche awareness talk and a general interest talk.

I chose this location (as opposed to Wales) since I figured there’d be more snow in Scotland at this time of the year. It looks like I’ll be in luck as judging by the Glenmore Lodge Facebook Page there’s a suitable amount of snow and ice around.

I came across this climbing video the other day which features Russell McIntyre and Richard Horsler climbing with Mark Chadwick from Glenmore Lodge in January 2016.  In Day 1 of the clip they climb Coire an t-Sneachda Fiacaill Ridge and on Day 2 they climb Coire Laogh-Mor and Ciste Crag. I’m assuming I’ll be doing something similar. Will certainly be writing about my adventures.

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January 31, 2016

Chris Froome Tour de France 2012 - Nose Incident

The Climb by Chris Froome - 2015 Tour de France WinnerI’m currently working my way through Tour de France 2015 Winner Chris Froome’s book, The Climb. There are many interesting stories in the book but this is one of the first ones I thought I would write a post on as it’s pretty funny. Whilst racing in the 2012 Tour de France Chris makes a hilarious mistake during the Prologue. Here’s an excerpt from the book of this story:-

First things first. I need a good ride in tomorrow’s prologue. To show them I am ready.

Next morning I speak with Gary Blem, who has prepared my time-trial bike. Gary talks me through the changes and they all seem good. At the bus I’ve got an hour and a half till my start time. I’ve planned this to the last detail so I don’t end up waiting at the start line, which is almost as bad as running late.

I put on my skinsuit bottoms for the warm-up but don’t pull the upper section over my torso. That would make me too hot on the turbo trainer. I wear an undervest for collecting sweat, then a light mountain jersey with a pocket for my iPhone. During the warm-up I will turn on my music and shut out everything else.

I check my time-trial helmet, fastening the strap to the right length so I won’t have to adjust it later. I lay it on my seat. Holding the visor up to the light, I look for any marks that need to be cleaned. Then I fiddle with the magnets to make sure they are where they should be to hold the visor in place. Gloves are placed on my seat. Shoe covers ready.

I then soak two small pieces of cotton wool in Olbas Oil, stuff them up my nostrils, draw air through my nose and wait for the oil to start clearing my airways. A quick espresso and I’m ready for the turbo trainer. The team has set up the trainer on a specially built platform beside the bus; uneven ground can ruin a warm-up.

This warm-up; I could do it in my sleep. To do it right demands concentration. Think, get it right. I start with 3 minutes of easy pedalling. Then an 8-minute progression to threshold. At threshold I’m producing a power I can sustain for up to an hour — over 400 watts. I dance to the numbers coming up on the display fixed to the handlebars.

Two minutes of recovery are followed by a quicker 4-minute progression. As I start at 200 watts and need to get above 400, I increase my power output by 60 watts a minute until I hit 440.

I begin another 3 minutes’ recovery, then I do three accelerations, which are almost sprints: two in the saddle, one out. Each lasts 10 seconds and is followed by 50 seconds of recovery. I then keep my legs turning for another 3 or 4 minutes. At 25 minutes I stop; warm-up complete. It is 10 minutes until I roll down the start ramp.

Back on the bus I take off the top and the undershirt; I have a small towel ready to mop up the sweat. A soigneur will help get my torso into the skinsuit, making sure not to rip my race number. If it is pulled too high, the pins will snap; this is an art.

I gulp down a hydromax gel, the one that tastes of pineapple juice, then I pick up my gloves and helmet. I’m ready.

The starter counts me down: trois, deux, un, allez. Just 6.4 kilometres — too short for tactics but I still don’t want to set off too fast. Robbie Nilsen, from back in the day, has indoctrinated me: first ten per cent of a at ninety per cent capacity. I take one quick look at the SRM: 520 watts. That’s good but not crazy. I’m going fast and breathing really hard. Another glance at the SRM: my heart rate is up to 170, which is as high as mine goes. I can hear myself breathing.

I don’t know why it’s so loud because I feel I’m going okay. Short, flat time trials don’t suit me but this is not too bad. I keep pushing.

Right line into corners; nothing stupid. Fast and smooth; a kilometre to go. Empty it all now.

I zip through the finish where Szrekkie is waiting for me. I’m gasping for breath, struggling, but I can’t think why. As I try to breathe deeply I feel like I’ve gone anaerobic; my body has seized up. I’ve never been so wasted. So helpless.

‘Hey, boy,’ Szrekkie says, ‘take the cotton wool from your nose.’

Oh sh*t!

I’d forgotten to take out the nose plugs before the start. I’d raced the whole prologue with them in, blocking my breathing. Thirty per cent of your breathing is done through your nose. I feel embarrassed. Really embarrassed. I’ve actually raced an okay prologue: 11th at 16 seconds down on Fabian Cancellara, a specialist in the short time trial. Brad is 2nd to Cancellara, 7 seconds down, and 9 seconds quicker than me.

But what has the blocked nose cost me? A few seconds, perhaps a little more. It definitely hasn’t helped. Brad’s 2nd place means the team is happy. No one makes much of a fuss about my mistake. Except the boys at the dinner table.

I’m one of the later ones to arrive for the meal. Bernie Eisel is sitting there with two paper napkins plugged into his nostrils. Funny. Genuinely funny. He looks at me.

‘What’s wrong’ he asks, all innocent, as if he’s unaware he’s got two two tissues up his nose.

Brilliant, I think, just brilliant. ‘Okay, guys, laugh it off ...’ My Tour de France has got off to the start I didn’t want.

After that incident is it any wonder he resorted to wearing the Turbine Nasal Dilator in the 2015 Tour de France?

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